36% of the US workers (57.3 million) are freelancers who are self-employed and work from home. They collectively contribute $1.4 trillion to the economy every year which is a 30% increase since the year 2016 which has resulted in rapid growth In freelancing.
According to UpWork,
Freelancers predicted to become the U.S. workforce majority within a decade, with nearly 50% of millennial workers already freelancing, annual “Freelancing in America” study finds
Europe is already watchful of the skill set and the think tanks believe that One-third of skills (35%) that are considered important today will not be in high demand by 2020.
It is absolutely clear that the demand for freelancers will only grow as this seems to be one of the sustainable models for the future. World’s biggest Freelance marketplaces for online work are destined to succeed in a short as well as in a long run providing jobs to hundreds of thousands of freelancers across the world.
As a seasoned freelancer from Pakistan who has been doing Freelancing for almost two decades and also a Freelance instructor for the Government of Pakistan’s program Digiskills.pk, people ask me; what is the secret recipe of acing freelancing on freelance marketplaces?.
I love this question! I believe everybody gets a fair shake at these freelance marketplaces but those who have something substantially extraordinary about them suffice this growing, saturated competition.
Let me clear one thing, I wholeheartedly believe that I was lucky enough to make one million dollars by doing freelancing in the last decade because I did not face aggressive competition as the freelancers face today and yes, I was fairly good as what I was offering and kept upgrading the skill set that was constantly changing and in demand by the clients, particularly from the USA.
Also See: Why I decided to personally train thousands of Pakistani freelancers online and how they are rocking the world with Digiskills.pk
Upwork and Guru.com are one of the largest freelance marketplaces in the world. The former is a merger of Elance and Odesk and has the largest number of projects posted. The website also has the most number of clients as well as freelancers. Upwork has also filed for IPO and looking for Net $100 million.
The world’s biggest Marketplace currently has over 2 million unique projects. It accommodates 375k earning freelancers and has around 475k billing clients. These freelancers represent 5000+ different skills in the freelance marketplace, said UpWork CEO Stephane Kasriel in an interview with CNBC.
Upwork and Guru, Both freelance marketplaces are working on directing bidding model which essentially means, clients, post the projects and freelancers bid on these projects.
Here is what I have learned in my career of almost 20 years about how to ace the freelancing at these two Godzilla portals.
1. Learn a skill first.
You are expecting to catch fish in the sky or perhaps finding birds under the water if you do not have a command over a skill. Learning a skill, mastering it is a pre-requisite of freelancing. Imagine a potential customer comes to your brick and mortar store and does not find a product they are looking for. Will they ever buy from you?. The answer is simply no, if you do not have what the customer is looking for, you can not sell.
It is very important to learn a skill and then continuously polish that skill to get better at it. There are many in-demand skills but take a look at the most wanted as UpWork releases 20 Fastest growing Freelance skills in Q3, 2018.
2. If you can’t understand and write English, you can’t survive.
The basic reason why the majority of freelancers from Pakistan, India, China, Philippines, and Russia fail is because of the communication problems. They are unable to understand the requirement put forward by the client and can not explain a solution in return. Clients typically hesitate to select a freelancer as they fear the communication problem if a project is awarded.
For freelancers to get into a slightest of the chance of acing freelancing, learning English is mandatory and that does not necessarily mean written but spoken too.
3. Get rid of the perception that the lowest price is a guarantee of being considered for a job.
Freelancers believe that bidding low (low price) on jobs is one way of getting the client’s attention but that is not exactly true. As a matter of fact, I have done projects worth over $10k and the client’s initial budget was ranged between $500 to $1000.
If you are confident of skill that is demanded in a project and you can provide a value proposition to the client then do not be afraid of pricing the project even if it exceeds the client’s expected budget. At times I have observed, if you bid too low, clients think, you are cheap and do not know the skill.
4. Use this cookie cutter 7 Rangi formula as your bid to get a response from a client.
Let’s assume you know a skill or two, you can understand and write English. This formula which I have accidentally discovered a few years back could help you in getting a response from the client.
As a freelancer, the first challenge is to convince the client to open a PMB (project message board). Only the client can initiate the discussion if they want to. It is highly recommended to use a different and customized response to each bid, never used canned responses.
You may want to use this 7 Rangi Formula (seven paragraphs) in your next bid and see if it works for you. It surely has done wonders for me and many others whom I have taught this amazing trick
1 – Greetings (Hello, Respected, Dear)
2- Restating employer project (In your own words, re-state the project)
3- Introducing yourself (Your brief intro, industries you have worked with, years of experience (if you have otherwise do not talk about it), Your brand name.)
4- What can you do for the problem stated in the project (talk about your skillset, the software you will use and how will you do the task). Also, try to answer these three questions in your proposal even though, your client may not have asked for it.
4a- Can you complete my project
4b- Are you an easy person to work with
4c- Do you care about helping me make this project successful
5 – Portfolio (If you are a fresh freelancer and do not have a portfolio, offer your service ‘Free‘ to 5 different people from 5 different walks of life. This is an investment towards a goal and the goal is to create a portfolio to show the client in your bid. Trust me, it does wonders in the long run)
6 – Magic trick up your sleeves (As a freelancer, I do not see the harm in providing free samples/mockups to your client. Also, try asking a question in your proposal that may prompt the client to open PMB give an answer to your question. For example, do you have hosting and domain name acquired?.)
7 – Closing of your pitch (use words like looking forward to your positive response, thank you)
All throughout my freelancing career, I have understood one thing. It is a pure test of your skill, character, and patience. If you are lacking these 3, go and build them first. Freelancing is a serious business and you have to be seriously equipped enough with soft/technical skills to survive.